30 Day Anime Challenge – Day 8: Favourite Anime Couple

This post is part of The 30 Day Anime Challenge Series alongside the Cosmic Anvil Kickstarter campaign. Click here to read the introduction, and click here to check out and support the campaign to help us fund the printing and distribution of our first collected volume of our manga-inspired comic series, Age of Revolution.


Jess Hardcastle Marketing Whizz Kid

This one for me is a no brainer! My favourite anime couple is Kirito and Asuna from Sword Art Online.

_commission__kirito_asuna_by_hikari_15_l-d5umt28

Kirito and Asuna, Sword Art Online

Not only do they make such a good couple, but they’re both bad-ass fighters – especially when they are fighting together to take down Bosses. I love how intense and serious their relationship is and how they are willing to die for each other. I really can’t think of any other anime relationship I’ve seen that compares to the one they have!


Hannah Collins Co-Founder and Artist

Considering how much I’ve sung the praises of CLAMP over this Challenge series, it will probably come as a surprise to no one that my favourite anime relationship is between the adorable Sakura Kinomoto and Syaoran Li from Cardcaptor Sakura.

Sakura Syaoran Li Cardcaptor Sakura Cardcaptors anime manga couples romance 30 day anime challenge cosmic anvil

Sakura & Syaoran, Cardcaptor Sakura

Syaoran is first introduced in the show as Sakura’s rival, and as the true heir to Clow Reed’s (creator of the cards) mantle, believes Sakura to be woefully ill-equipped to take on the difficult task of capturing and mastering all the Clow Cards. Over the course of the 70 episode run, he competes with Sakura to capture each card with varying degrees of success. Sakura – being a loving and kind-hearted girl – welcomes Syaoran’s assistance, whilst he grumpily struggles to not befriend her.

Syaoran is definitely a kid with the weight of the world on his shoulders. Raised in a prestigious Chinese family to become Clow Reed’s successor, he hasn’t had much of a chance to be a real child, and as a result is serious, mature, and stiff around children of his own age. He almost acts like a grumpy old man trapped in a child’s body. But that’s also what makes him so endearing.

Grumpy Syaoran is grumpy.

Grumpy Syaoran is grumpy.

Of course, he warms up to Sakura slowly but surely, and as she grows stronger and stronger to become the cards’ true master, Syaoran admits defeat and decides to return home to Hong-Kong. Except… He doesn’t. What is it that is still keeping him tied to Japan, he wonders to himself? It’s Sakura, DUH! We all know this by now, but it takes him – and Sakura – the rest of the series and two tie-in films to realise their love for each other.

A love so strong in fact, that it carried on in the sort-of-spin-off-series, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles:

Sakura & Syaoran, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles, Clamp, romance, couple, manga, anime, 30 day anime challenge, cosmic anvil

Sakura & Syaoran, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles

I always think the strongest relationships in fiction (and in real life I suppose) are characters who enrich and change each other’s lives for the better. Sakura imparts sensitivity and the ability to forge meaningful friendships onto Syaoran so he can learn to be less work-focussed; and he in turn teaches her maturity and strength through competing with her for the cards. Even if their love had been unrequited in the end, they still would have both been better-off people for being in each other’s lives.

Honourable mentions: Takumi Usui & Misaki Ayuzawa (Kaichou Wa Maid-Sama), Yukito Tsukishiro and Touya Kinomoto (Cardcaptor Sakura), Howl and Sophie (Howl’s Moving Castle), Tamaki Souh and Haruhi Fujioka (Ouran High School Host Club), Luke Ainsworth & Cecily Campbell (Sacred Blacksmith).


Huw Williams CO-Founder and Writer

Most popular fictional couples are ones that come together after a long period of time through the ‘will they won’t they’ kind of cliched story arc. For me, however, the best couple in anime came out of nowhere, yet makes perfect sense. The best anime couple for me has to be Bulma and Vegeta from the Dragon Ball franchise.

Who would you pair up with a rich and spoiled young woman? Why not an overly proud Prince with a self centered attitude? It makes perfect sense. Yet Bulma and Vegeta’s romance was a huge surprise for fans when it emerged. There were hints of flirtation after the fight with Freeza but nothing concrete, nothing until Trunks showed up from the future and told Goku who his parents were.

Bulma and Vegeta was meant to be a curve ball, but it makes sense in the story: Yamcha and Bulma were never going to work, they were always on and off, and Yamcha was slowly getting sidelined as the story went on. And it figures that the most stubborn male character would end up with the most stubborn female character – they were made for each other.

Love is in the air.

Love is in the air.

Bulma and Vegeta are also perfect on a comedic level as well, always bickering about something, and Vegeta is always putting up a wall in front of the love he clearly has for Bulma and his family. At first we think that maybe Trunks was the product of one night of passion never to be rekindled again, but as the story goes on we discover on three occasions that Vegeta is indeed in love with Bulma, and cares deeply for his son.

He does care, trust me.

He does care, trust me.

Firstly, we see Vegeta burst into a rage to seek revenge against Cell for killing Future Trunks. Then Vegeta also makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the world form Majin Buu, stating that he’s doing it for Trunks and Bulma. And finally we see Vegeta almost reach the level of a God when Lord Beerus hits Bulma, and we get this amazing scene:

It may not be the most harmonious relationship, but Vegeta and Bulma obviously love each other dearly, and though Vegeta might not show it often, when he does… watch out!

Also, this is one of the best screen caps from Dragon Ball Super so far:

Family outing

Family outing! Vegeta, Bulma, and Trunks.


Written by The Cosmic Anvil Team.

Check out our own Welsh-manga (or ‘Wanga’) series, AGE OF REVOLUTION on our official site and Comixology! And if you want to join the fight to get the AGE OF REVOLUTION Volume printed check out our Kickstarter page

Kickstarter age of revolution volume one cosmic anvil new reward tiers added

Kickstarter new reward tier £15 pledge cosmic anvil

kickstarter age of revolution cosmic anvil new reward tiers pledge comic book comic strip art commission

 

Cardcaptor Sakura by CLAMP

It gives me HUGE pleasure this week to write about a manga that is so close to my heart I will physically hurt anyone that has a bad word to say about it. (Or maybe just cry a little.)

My first experience of Cardcaptor Sakura or Cardcaptors falls into the ‘Dubbed-Anime-That-You-Watched-as–a-Kid-in-the-90s-and-Didn’t-Know-it-Was-Anime’ category. A category that is also occupied for me – and probably most other people of my generation – by shows like Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, and Dragon Ball. Cardcaptor Sakura (CCS) belongs to the ‘magic girl’ genre, and on the surface looks a bit like Sailor Moon – its closest contemporary comparison – but for younger girls, as the ages of the main group fall around 10 – 12 years old. Given this, and its ridiculously saccharine appearance, you could be forgiven for dismissing it as typical shŌjo (‘young girl’ in Japanese) fare. However, upon re-watching the anime in it’s original Japanese language format and reading the manga it was based on, I was surprised at the quality of the artistry, the depth of the storytelling, and the how much I connected emotionally with the characters.

Cardcaptor Sakura CLAMP Cardcaptors Manga Shojo Girl's Anime

Cardcaptor Sakura Anime

CCS was serialised in the magazine Nakayoshi between 1996 and 2000, and created by the all-female artist/writer group Clamp. It has since been collected into 12 volumes, and adapted into a 70 episode anime series and two films. I’ll summarise the story as briefly – and spoiler-free-y – as I can: The titular character – Sakura Kinomoto – is the daughter of a single father (her mother is dead) and sister of older brother, Toya (or ‘Tory’ in the English dub of the anime). The story begins with Sakura accidentally releasing a set of magical cards called ‘Clow cards’ that she discovers in a book in her father’s study. This simultaneously releases latent magical abilities within her that are connected to the cards, as well as the story’s mascot – Cerberus (nicknamed ‘Kero’) – who tells her that he is the ‘Guardian’ of the cards and tasks her to collect all of the cards that she set free. Sakura must battle the magical personification of each card’s power – e.g. Water, Wind, Fire, Jump, Fly, Mirror, etc. – in order to capture it, aided by Kero; her best friend Tomoyo Daidouji (‘Madison Taylor’ in the dub) and Chinese transfer student Syaoran Li (‘Li Showron’ in the dub, which borders on the phonetically offensive now that I’m seeing it written down…)

Cardcaptor Sakura CLAMP Cardcaptors Manga Shojo Girl's Anime

Tomoyo Daidouji or ‘Madison Taylor.’

The quirkiness of these sidekick characters is one of the things that set CCS apart from others of its genre. Kero is a street talkin’ dude (apparently from Osaka, which the writers tell you is basically the New York of Japan – or more specifically the Brooklyn of Japan) who can’t get enough pudding and lives in Sakura’s sock drawer.

Tomoyo plays the BFF role with heavy emphasis on the ‘Forever’ part and serves the shŌjo fans well by tailoring Sakura a new combat outfit for every battle. Except when I say ‘combat outfit’ I’m talking bows, fake ears, bells, frills, and hats, oh so many hats… Sakura still kicks major butt though, despite the frilliness of her skirt. (Adorable fact: At the end of every episode of the anime, Kero does a post-credit ‘spotlight’ on each outfit wearing a bow tie and smoking a pipe, which continually begs the question: Just how old is Kero and should we be worried about that sock drawer?)

Cardcaptor Sakura CLAMP Cardcaptors Manga Shojo Girl's Anime

Kero-chan!

Syaoran is basically a middle-aged man trapped in a child’s body. Not literally. He is grumpy, awkward, and so very desperate to be the hero, which makes it even more hilarious to see him get all huffy and jittery when things don’t go his way. At first he looks down on Sakura as though she were a bumbling idiot, but over time he grows to see her as a rival and equal, and then as a true friend. Beyond that, his feelings apparently get so complicated it takes the entire stretch of the manga and two films post-series to sort them out. (Who am I to complain though, I love those films…)

Cardcaptor Sakura CLAMP Cardcaptors Manga Shojo Girl's Anime

Grumpy Syaoran is grumpy.

There’s a lot to love about the central heroine too. Yes, Sakura is clumsy, cutesy, boy-obsessed, and naïve, but she’s also brave, loyal, eager, gutsy, and earnest. For a 10-year-old she also takes on a lot of responsibilities – staying late after school doing extra chores, cooking and cleaning around the house, going shopping with her friends completely un-chaperoned, and of course the small task of collecting all those rogue Clow cards that keep threatening to destroy the city and/or her friends and family. Perhaps this is in fact the reality for every Japanese child.

Cardcaptor Sakura CLAMP Cardcaptors Manga Shojo Girl's Anime

RELEEEEAAASSSE!

What you wouldn’t expect of such an innocent and well-meaning manga/anime is for it to be subject to any form of censorship. Yet, when the anime was shipped to the US to be dubbed, it was so heavily hacked up that certain key subplots and character dynamics were either gone or drastically altered. This was more than just removing cigarettes and violence, as was the case for other shows; it completely changed the way the English-speaking audience viewed it. In the interests of keeping this as spoiler-free as possible, I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say that certain relationships between certain characters were put firmly back in the closet. Things like this may seem small, but they had a detrimental effect overall. As a show that is so much more than the sum of its parts, this harsh editing sucked out a lot of the fun minor details that fleshed the show and its characters out into real, loveable people. In short, if you’re going to watch the anime, don’t waste your time watching it dubbed.

The theme song is still pretty good though:

Written by Hannah Collins.